Avalanche 4, Blackhawks 3 (SO)

It’s a proverb as old as Chris Chelios’ shoulder pads: What the forward on the power play point giveth, the forward on the power play point taketh away.

Indeed, the Hawks jumped out to an early lead Friday night in Colorado, thanks to a Dustin Byfuglien point shot on the power play.  Then, just a few minutes later, Duncan Keith worked a give-and-go with Kris Versteeg, who was camped out behind the Avalanche net.  Keith hit Versteeg with a pass, and Versteeg quickly found Keith coming through the slot.  Keith put it past Barrington native Craig Anderson to double the young Hawk lead.

It wouldn’t last.

With less than two minutes left in the first frame, hard work by Matt Duchene’s group forced a Blackhawk icing.  During the ensuing play, Ryan O’Reilly undid half of the Hawks’ solid period.

It would only get worse.

After a slow start to the second period, Adam Foote had a plan; he would take a roughing penalty in an effort to force a Blackhawk forward to the position of defense.  And, Joel Quenneville fell right into his trap.  A minute into the power play, David Jones undressed forward-turned-pointman Dustin Byfuglien on his way to the net.  (Byfuglien later admitted to believing Jones, the Colorado winger, was the immortal pirate with the same name from Pirates of the Caribbean.  He certainly treated him as such as Jones came down on him.)

Just a minute later, O’Reilly scored his second of the game to give the ‘Lanche its first lead of the night.

Later in the frame, following a solid Blackhawk power play, Andrew Ladd found himself alone in front of Anderson with a Patrick Sharp rebound on his stick.  He slipped the tying goal behind the Avalanche goalie.

The third would come and go without a goal; as would overtime.  Then, the Hawks and Avalanche found themselves in familiar territory: a shootout.  Unfortunately, this one wouldn’t end with an Andrew Ladd game winner.  This one would start with a Patrick Kane – the first shooter – goal, but would see Versteeg, Sharp, Tomas Kopecky, Andrew Ladd, who hit the post, Cam Barker and Dustin Byfuglien miss.  Marek Svatos would score for the ‘Lanche to take it to “extra innings” – as Pat Foley calls it – and Chris Steward would score to win.  The goal came in the eighth shootout round.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

That is why I don’t enjoy watching forwards on the power play point – and why anyone who thinks Byfuglien should be a defenseman is on acid.

— Annti Niemi would get kicked out of Morehouse College with those hockey pants sagging off his hips.  Pull those pants up.

— Did anyone hear the Blackhawk dads were also taken on the trip?  Huh, hadn’t heard.

— Mike Haviland’s complexion looks much better this season.  No longer does he look like a teenage girl with acne who’d been crying for an hour.  Good for him.

— Hold on.  The dads were on the trip?

— Maybe Patrick Sharp’s dad should have stayed in Ontario.  Sharp had 346 chances combined in Phoenix and Colorado and had no goals.  He missed the net 87 times.

— Andrew Ladd received a scare when he took a skate boot to the face in the third.  It appeared that Ladd was lucky enough to avoid the skate blade, but that the boot broke his nose.  He returned.  After all, he’s a hockey player.

— Tomas Kopecky continues to be a different player recently.  One thing’s for sure, though: he’s not a fourth line player.  And, in this case, that may actually not be a good thing.

— With Dave Bolland out, Versteeg centered Kane and Ladd; Andrew Ebbett was in between Sharp and Byfuglien; and Madden centered Troy Brouwer and Kopecky.  Colin Fraser, Bryan Bickell and Jordan Hendry formed the fourth line.

— The Hawks outshot the ‘Lanche 32 to 22.

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15 Responses to Avalanche 4, Blackhawks 3 (SO)

  1. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, let’s not kid ourselves.

    Five starting forwards absent, including two Top 6’s and Bolland (who is arguably part of that Top 6 group).

    Offense is going to be an issue. Period.

    Byfuglien is probably still nursing the groin and/or back injury that ailed him in the pre-season.

    Seabrook still isn’t 100%. That’s obvious.

    Consider the measurable impact of the injuries.

    Toews and Hossa are to the Blackhawks what Crosby-Malkin, Zetterberg-Datsyuk, Ovechkin-Semin, etc etc are to their teams…in terms of their relative value.

    Kane, Versteeg and Sharp can’t be expected to compensate for that loss, game after game. It’s too easy for other teams to key on them.

    The Hawks have made it through the first fifteen games with a more than respectable 8-5-2 record and are leading their Division.

    Last night’s effort, apart from the mental lapses that may simply be due to too few players trying to make up for the personnel absences, was one the Hawks and their fans can be proud of.

    Especially Ladd coming back after being cut in the face with a skate. That takes guts none of us have.

    We’ve critiqued this team, and justifiably so.

    But maybe it’s time to cut Da Boyz some slack.

    Because their opponents certainly won’t.

  2. Lou says:

    A few thoughts,

    Niemi is a long way from a a number one goalie. He went down too early on one goal and reabound control needs work. More exposure will help him develop.

    Shootout shooters. Cam Barker should be last right in front of Sopel. WTF was that? Sharp shouldn’t be top ten. Toews-Hossa-Kane-Steeg followed then by Ladd and Kopecky. Sharp is not good in shootouts and his career percentage is indicative of such. And you summoned up perfectly the nets he has been missing.

    Line juggling. I understand we are down a bunch of guys but Q has taken this to a ridiculous and frankly ludicrous level. Chemistry develops when guys play together regularly. We need to start heading in that direction. That allowed us to roll four lines last year. It will allow us to do that this year. Teh different combos every game and then period are not clicking on the regular shifts. I think we have to keep a couple of tandems and keep em together come hell or high water

    Andrew Ebbett is not fitting in his current role and I am not sure he is going to fit in at all. It might be time to end that experiment.

    If Bolland’s back is truly flaring up again, how do we address the depth issue there.

  3. John says:

    If Andrew Ebbett isn’t the answer, then who is?

    Take your pick of Colin Fraser, Evan Brophey, Nathan Davis. I’m all for expecting instant results from a newly acquired under-skilled player but he’s certainly better than any current alternative the Hawks are sporting.

  4. Lou says:

    @John, according to his stats last year, he is a better player. And that would lend itself to more skill than any of the other 4th liners. So I don’t think we should call him un-skilled. Underperforming might be a better term at this point

    He has been on the ice 8 or 9 games now; so I feel we are past the instant results phase. It was made to believe that we got a steal in this pick up. Maybe we got a guy who had a career year last year. Maybe, he is still figuring out his role. It very well may come back to the line juggling thing he is just juggled too much as well. On the flipside, he had had chances to play on different lines as well.

    Of the guys you mentioned it is no one I can tell you it is defeinitely not Colin Fraser. When we are healthy Fraser and Ebbett are fighiting to be #12 or #13 forward.

    Just good hearty dialogue before OSU-PSU

  5. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, it is entirely possible Mr. Bolland will require back surgery, in which case Mr. Ebbett will be the insurance policy he was acquired to be.

    The Blackhawks may also need to do some shopping.

  6. Lou says:

    @Dave, I hope so. As I have said, I am hoping for some stability in the lines. But as you very well know, I think the Hawks are going to do some shopping and you and I have had excellent dialogue on that.

    Today’s scuttle is Sharp to Atl. Yesterday it was Forsberg in the mix.

    Different topic, do we bring Aliu up for a game in the near future to see where he development is at????

  7. John says:

    I said under-skilled not un-skilled meaning he’s already behind the 8-ball bc of his physical attributes. I can’t speak for anyone else but I don’t recall a great proclamation that the Hawks got a steal when they claimed him. Just a really nice insurance policy in case something happens. Lo and behold, it appears that’s likely to happen now with Bolland.

    I don’t know how much his stats had to do with playing on a line with Teemu Selanne last year.

    What I do know is that he will probably be the first guy to get an extended look as the Hawks 2nd line center should Bolland be out for any length of time.

    As for Aliu, I don’t think he’s going to get jerked around like some of his teammates. The Hawks would be prudent to simply let him play on one team the whole year rather than bounce him up and down for silly reasons.

  8. jm says:

    I know this was mentioned on this site earlier in the year, but it really is fascinating how Q will shuffle the lines up every period, but STILL refuses to give up on the Forward At Point PP experiment. It’s been a failure all season.

    Anyways, I agree with Dave. Given the multiple setbacks with injuries we’ve had this year, I’m more than content with our record up to this point. There are some things, like the power play situation described above, that I really question. But there’s not a whole lot else I can complain about.

    Just counting down the days until Hossa jumps onto the ice once Kane comes off.

  9. Dave Morris says:

    I’m onside with John re: Ebbett. He cost nothing to acquire; he’s an experienced center, and he’s already spelled Toews in Jonny’s absence. Looks like he’ll be filling in for Bolly now.

    It’s going to be a tough road from now to Christmas.

    On the plus side, the team is MUCH better defensively than they were last year, and they’re managing to hang in, every game.

    Three of their losses have been by a goal, the other two by two. So they’ve got a chance to win most nights.

    IMHO what we saw in the last half of the Colorado game (giving up two quick goals, but coming back against the league’s hottest goalie), should be encouraging.

    Let’s hope Toews is 100% when he comes back.

    All I care about right now is the Hawks staying in the mix, and holding their own for the next five months.

    Forget all the BS predictions and ‘expectations’.

    Get to the playoffs again, with as good a seed as they can, and roll from there.

  10. Lou says:

    @John, good points, i short typed under skilled but I am concerned that Ebbett is indeed inflated b/c Teemu. I would rather keep Madden on the checking crew than elevating him. I am hoping Ebbett has some moxie if Bolland is in a malingering situation like he appears to be

    I agree on Aliu I think consistency is more important for him than anything but wanted to throw that out there.

    I dp think our shorter term center depth problem is an issue as our kids develop over the net few years.

  11. CT says:

    That’s what really pisses me off about Q’s use of forwards on the point. With the forward corps already decimated by injuries, he’s further weakening the PP unit down low by playing guys like Sharp and Byfuglien on the point.

    And why was Buff paired with Barker? The guys have similar skill sets, big, fairly slow, good shot from the point. If you’re that hurting for guys to play D on PP, wouldn’t you put those two on seperate units?

  12. Dave Morris says:

    Doesn’t look good for Bolland. From Tim Sassone at The Herald:


    “The Hawks will continue to monitor Bolland’s back while deciding if the best thing would be to shut down the center for a while.

    “Bolland has been taking cortisone shots for the pain in order to play, but that can’t keep happening. The club has discussed surgery for Bolland, which could knock the No. 2 center out of the lineup for as long as two months should the Hawks decide to go that route.

    “Bolland missed Friday’s game at Colorado – the second time he has sat out because of his back after being idle for much of training camp.

    “‘Bolly’s been hurt most of the year, so hopefully he can get a little rest here,’ Keith said.

    “Bolland hasn’t been himself skating-wise even when he has been able to play, with just 2 goals and 4 assists in 13 games.

    “Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Friday the team would see how Bolland’s back responds over the next few days when asked if the center could make it through the season with his back in the condition it is now.”

    Andrew Ebbett may become more valuable than we expected.

  13. Patrick says:

    If the Hawks put Bolland on long-term IR, similar to what they did with Sopel last year, can they use that salary cap slot for a FA or trade, without repercussions to next year’s cap?

  14. John says:

    Yes they can Patrick, but for whatever reason, the Hawks have been hesitant to use LTIR this season as seen in the Hossa and Ben Eager cases.

    Last year, they had no problem putting Khabibulin on it. We’ll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

    Dave, couldn’t agree with you more on your previous post. The regular season is now merely an appetizer to the main course wheras it used to be the dessert to the regular season’s main course. Just make it to the end with your key guys healthy and let the chips fall.

  15. Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler says:

    If Ebbett’s #’s were inflated by skating next to Selanne, then imagine how inflated they’ll be when he skates in between Hossa and Kane for 6 weeks while Bolland is out.

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